There was a time when a person could look at a picture of some hunky, naked men having a bath together and think it was nothing more than sporty boys having good, clean, healthy, heterosexual fun, and that after the communal bath they’d all head down the pub for a skinful and a fight, then end the evening shagging some bird in a very manly way. Now, of course, it looks like the gayest record sleeve ever, queerer than a nine-bob note, camper than a row of tents, and a masterpiece of homo kitsch. We’re all so damn “knowing” these days, aren’t we?
I really have no idea why my mother owned this record and how it ended up sitting in our sideboard throughout my childhood. Like most Brits she liked bawdy humour and there was a whole series of Rugby Songs albums released in the 60s so they must have been fairly popular, but I can only assume — and hope — that someone bought it for her as a joke. I certainly hope she didn’t buy it herself because she liked the picture on the cover, I’d rather not think about that too much.
Despite the saucy sleeve the record itself isn’t actually that rude (by modern standards anyway) because all the naughty words are bleeped out so it’s more nudge nudge wink wink than truly filthy. While I don’t remember my mother ever playing it I used to play it a lot trying to work out what words those bleeps were hiding. I imagine they had to be very bad to be censored like that and figuring them out was like unlocking another door into the world of grown-ups. Some tracks were rendered almost unlistenable by the constant bleeps but my favourite song “Balls To Your Partner” was easier to work out:
Singing balls to your partner, bleep against the wall,
If you’ve never been bleep on a Saturday night, you’ll never get bleep at all.
Though I was still of an age when I was learning swear words from the older kids in the playground I knew enough to reckon that the first bleep was “arse” (I had no idea what “arse against the wall” meant though), and the second had to be “shagged”. Thanks to the magic of the internets I now know that “Balls To Your Partner” is based on an Irish folk song called “The Ball of Kerrymuir” but I can’t say for sure what those bleeps are as there appear to be several different versions of it. Oh well, guess I can just use my imagination the way I did back then, or maybe in these more liberal times someone will release an un-bleeped version of the album.
Download: Balls To Your Partner- The Jock Strapp Ensemble (mp3)
Download: It Was On The Good Ship Venus – The Jock Strapp Ensemble (mp3)
Download: John Peel- The Jock Strapp Ensemble (mp3)
(Yes, there’s a song called “John Peel” and they’re all performed by a group called The Jock Strapp Ensemble)